1981 London Marathon | A Historical First | Ep 22

London Marathon | One minute you are strangers on the streets of London and the next you are united in sports forever and friends for a lifetime.

That is what happened for American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen at the 1981 London Marathon.

1981 London Marathon

These two marathoners had never met when the gun went off to start the first ever London Marathon. They ran together near the head of the pack for miles, neither able to gain distance on the other.

In the final stages of the race, a moment in sports history began when Beardsley turned to Simonsen and asked, “should we go in together.”

Not knowing if Simonsen had agreed to that, they raced on, stride for stride, towards the finish line where the answer became apparent. Hand in hand, they crossed the finish line as co-winners of London’s first marathon.

Never before, and most likely never again, will a marathon finish this way.

Here are Dick and Inge with the story of that race, in their own words. Why would two such competitive athletes who had trained so hard to win the marathon agree to do this while running the race?

What effect did this race have on their lives? Would they do it differently in hindsight?

Listen and enjoy.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others: